It’s surprisingly rare to see Proper Sci-Fi on TV these days. Proper Sci-Fi is, to my mind, based on scientific advancements that you can actually see happening in the not-too-distant future. So, back in the 60s and 70s when the space-race was on/mankind had just set foot on the moon, TV was flooded with shows like Star Trek, Lost in Space and Space: 1999. The space obsession continued into the late 70s/early 80s, although I think most of that can be put down to the success of Star Wars.
These days, seeing as we don’t have enough money for a weekly rubbish collection let alone a colony on the moon, a life amongst the stars seems too hopeful to be true. Sci-fi took a back-seat to fantasy, its more unlikely cousin, as terrorism and recessions made TV audiences less willing to contemplate reality.
But the growing ubiquity of smart phones and tablets seems to have triggered a new level of Proper Sci-Fi, and Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has enthusiastically levelled up with it. After last year’s three stand-alone films (The National Anthem took the headlines, but the other two were equally good, with The Entire History of You recently being optioned by Robert Downey Jnr as a feature film), Black Mirror is back with three more tales. Most of the films so far seem to share a stylistic universe, with interactive screens and online presences being visually and thematically important. It only requires a comfortable stride rather than a leap to imagine a universe where someone’s presence can be recreated after their death from their online history.
Aside from making you wonder what your virtual self created from your social media presence would be like (damn mine would be geeky), Black Mirror touches upon that other sci-fi hot topic: genetic manipulation. It’s an older topic, one that Fringe was mining long before Black Mirror came along, but is still one that is very current and plausible. The mysteries of space are less captivating these days than our own bodies. Hell, scientists just invented a bionic eye, for crying out loud!
Tags: Atlantis, Black Mirror, Rupert Grint, Staying In, utopia